30 June 2009


There's a program on my laptop called 'Windows Movie Maker'. I've never opened it before, but tonight I was feeling bored and listless so I opened the fucker and, for the sheer hell of it, 'created' the above promo clip using a few old pictures from my raving days and the first two minutes of a killer tune called "Elephants" by October. It is scheduled for release around late July or early August on Immerse Records.

Here's what Immerse's Kid Kut had to say about it:

"...created back in 2003 when Jules (October), myself and a few others used to go out to parties and get a little worse for wear and wanted something to listen to when we came home, didn't have a label then but now is definitely the right time to put these out, definitely captures an era for me personally, a time when i was first getting into dubstep, ThinKings mix and SLT with that amazing ep on Soulja."

And if you understand what he's saying, like I do, then that probably means you were vibing on early Mark One, Plasticman, SLT Mob, Soulja and Road 12-inchers and getting really excited about this ice-cool new form of UKG that was so fresh and underground it didn't even have a firm name yet.

This tune is the shit. Buy on sight.

27 June 2009


Nothing unusual in itself, but I'm taking this one personally.

All my life this little retail space at the bottom of Cleeve Hill has been an off-licence. My dad used to come in here to buy his cans of Hoffmeister and packs of Marlborough. Sometimes I would go with him and wait obediently and patiently while he chatted with the ever-jovial proprietor about the football results, hoping that he might feel inclined to buy me a packet of crisps or a chocolate bar or maybe some Opal Fruits from the enticing selection of snacks on display at the counter.

Years later, having moved back into the area, I began frequenting the shop myself, to buy my bottles of Budweiser , Drum tobacco and Rizlas. Occasionally my children would accompany me and, if they were well-behaved, I might feel inclined to buy them a packet of crisps or a chocolate bar or even a packet of Starburst. But I never had any idea who the proprietor was. The counter was now a plexi-glassed fortress with a little opening where cash would be furtively exchanged with an ever-changing staff of young student-types who always seemed vaguely annoyed at my presence. Perhaps because I had disturbed them in the middle of some urgent text-messaging.

And you wonder why I keep going on about the past.

The atmosphere, lay-out and even the brand names might have changed, but there's one thing that's always stayed the same about that shop: the smell. I think it must be something to do with the wood. The shop has dark wooden walls and floors, and they secrete a particular warm, woody odour that is, in my experience, entirely unique to this shop. I've never smelt it anywhere else in the world. It's a lovely, comforting smell. Whenever I smell it I connect with a little 8-year-old kid, holding his dad's hand, happily biting into a Cadbury's Fruit & Nut bar. I hate the idea that, for the time being at least, I am denied access to that smell and the sensations it inspires.

26 June 2009


Featuring Delia's green lampshade, John's cash register, and the bloke who used to present Screen Test. What more could you possibly want?

The amazing and ultimately tragic story of Peter Zinovieff and EMS in a nutshell.

And here's what the rock stars did with EMS synths...


c/o Headhunter. Amen, brother...

22 June 2009


Following on from the Cabaret Voltaire post, I've tracked down a few other clips that stand out in my memory as particularly influencial in my personal development. It is perhaps hard to remember now how influential these brief televised encounters could be for a teenager growing-up in the '80s, thirsty for fresh musical experience, yet desperately restricted for choice and information by today's standards. Yes, we had the radio, and we had the music press, and sometimes we even had enough pocket money to buy an actual record, but often it's these fleeting, unplanned televisual experiences that burn brightest in the mind's eye. Perhaps the slower rate of intake allowed these things to be inwardly digested better. I mean, I can't remember what I was watching/listening to on the internet last week, yet these clips from over twenty years ago still linger...

I didn't see the original broadcast, but this clip was repeated on Whisletest sometime in the mid-'80s (during the Mark Ellen/Andy Kershaw years). At that time I knew very little about Pil apart from maybe recent hits like "Rise". I'd never seen a group playing like their lives depended on it before, and I remember being utterly gobsmacked by Keith Levine's deft, almost violent, approach to synth-playing. As the clip finished I suddenly realised I'd been holding my breath.

I'm not sure when and where I saw this clip, originally broadcast on one of Granada's regional shows, but it was my first exposure to the music of Joy Division, viewed without any knowledge of their history or growing legendary status, nor any inkling of the dark, tragic story attached to the lead singer. I wasn't as immediately blown-apart by the music, but the image of the group on those raised podiums, so starkly intense and transfixed by their own sound, (plus the singer's rather curious dancing technique) is the first image that comes to mind whenever I think about Joy Division.

The Southbank Show did a documentory on the Velvet Underground in 1986. I'm not sure if I'd even heard of the group at this point, but I would always make a point of watching the programme when they were covering music. This one totally hooked me into the sound and mythology of the Velvets. It looks like the whole thing is now up on youtube, although this section, with it's evocative description of the creative tensions that spawned "Sister Ray", made a particularly heavy impact on my young mind.

To finish (for now), here's one that was actually a current, brand new track at the time. Again I have Whistletest to thank for playing this video and thus irrevocably cementing my love for Mantronik and electro-flavoured '80s hip-hop in general.

15 June 2009


A couple of links sent my way earlier today - Jan Jelinek's 'radiophonic' hoax album (via Bob) and a Conny Plank podcast (via Matt) - converged in my mind and sent it flashing back to a little-known krautrock-inspired hoax album entitled Auf Die Mond! I always assumed it was a hoax, anyway. Promotional cd-r copies were floating around in 2001, yet when I googled it I couldn't find a single reference to it's existence! Hard to believe, I know, but somehow this particular item has managed to remain undocumented on the web...until now.

After a good deal of searching through mountains of dodgy old promo CDs, I finally found it. The sleeve notes, written by one Clifford Snouts, claim that the master tape for this 'forgotten krautrock gem' was discovered by a retired German recording engineer in a filing cabinet. The album, by an unknown artist/group, was apparently recorded in late 1974, possibly in Hamburg. Stylistically, the music recalls Kraftwerk circa Ralf & Florian, although the title track is clearly endebted to Neu! But perhaps the closest overall comparison would be with Cluster, as the music veers between the formless dronescapes of Cluster II and the naive cyclic melodies of Zuckerzeit or Sowiesoso.

Now I'm not usually one for wholesale filesharing, but on this occasion I've decided to share the entire release with you, dear readers, complete with reproduced sleeve notes. Afterall, this is one of those weird little forgotten electronic projects that is so obscure that the chances of anyone actually finding a copy are practically nil. Plus I'm almost hoping it's creators might spot this and get in touch to solve the mystery of it's origins once and for all.

As I said, I'm pretty sure this must be a hoax, but it's still an enjoyable and quite authentically retro-analogue listening experience, full of filtered rhythm machines, Farfisa organs, backwards guitars and clunky hand-played monosynths.

Download here.

09 June 2009


Shocked and stunned to discover this snippet of archival footage of Daniel Miller and Robert Rental in performance and at home studio back in '79 - I had no idea such a document existed.


Discovered this by accident tonight. Not sure how I feel about it. Of course, my wife (who knows that (a) I detest Duran Duran on general principle and (b) Warm leatherette is one of my favourite singles ever) thinks this is absolutely hilarious.

And when did La Bonn and his chums start pretending they were Kraftwerk..?

05 June 2009


I don't pretend to be an expert on his career, all I know is I fucking loved watching Kung Fu when I was a kid. I still have my collection of bubble gum cards and, as a mark of respect, here's a few of my favourites....

04 June 2009


In the middle of reading Dave Haslam's "Not Abba - The Real Story Of The 1970s" (4th Estate, 2005),which I found in the local library, not a charity shop. Haslam's narrative style can be a bit jarring in places, but I like the way he's interwoven the political landscape with popular music. So on the one hand I read that "the National Front made headway in an era when the political process looked flawed and the major parties lacked credibility" (hmmm, sounds familiar), whilst on the other discovering that soul group Sweet Sensation were from Manchester, not the States as I had always assumed, and that their lead singer Marcel King would make a record on Factory Records in the following decade in collaboration with Barney Sumner (New Order) and Donald Johnson (ACR), which would become an early dancefloor hit at the Hacienda. 

03 June 2009


Speaking of books, how did people manage to drool over cool pictures of sexy records and CDs before websites like Hard Format? Well presumably they spent twenty quid on a big coffee-table tome like this...

"Discstyle" by Martin Pesch & Markus Weisbeck (Collins & Brown, 1999)

I assume it's long out of print, but I came across a copy in a charity shop this week for two quid. It's a luxurious thing, with a forward by Ian Anderson (Designers Republic), charting the design trends of electronic music graphics in the latter half of the nineties. Not enough time has elapsed for it to really exude a strong, pungent flava of the era, in fact much of the imagery on offer wouldn't look too out of place today. But it's a nice thing to have and will perhaps grow in collectibity in the coming years.

02 June 2009



As previously discussed (in the days before youtube)...

...but it was those Cabs promos that really got under my skin, particularly Just Fascination which I taped and watched over and over again. I felt the change a-comin'. The realisation that maybe there was more to music beyond Queen, Billy Joel and Nik Kershaw. Something about Mal's freaky staring eyes, or maybe Richard's spectral presence...perhaps Peter Care's superb video direction and visual techniques..Definitely something about those hard rhythms. Quite accessible yet very un-pop with none of the usual hooklines. That ominous synthetic groove was the hook. The lyrics... more like a mantra, "This private... Fascination, just fascination, just fascination", looping, hypnotic, mesmerising. It's also quite possible that Peter Care's voyeuristic close-ups of the mysterious female in the black stilleto's and fishnets had some kind of profound effect on my still-developing psyche, introducing me to a particular adult pasttime known as sexual fetishism. (Even now, I'm still turned-on by a nice pair of ankles in high heels - thanks for that, Pete). Overall I was getting the impression that here was something with bit more depth than the usual chart-fodder. Something that took a little time and effort to assimilate and form opinions about. Something that perhaps had a message within the message. Something that had something important to say, but wasn't gonna say it directly. It wanted the listener/viewer to draw their own conclusions; there was a veil of mystery, an aura of subversivness, that just clicked with me...